There have been posts, so many, about direct sales, social media, annoying friends, empowering women, and they have made some good points. I’d like to suggest, however, that we are missing the useful lesson, which is that social media works when you feel connected to others, through Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter, and it does not work when insincerity or an agenda messes with that connection. I’m exhausted with any discussion about whether direct sales (my Jamberry and Chloe + Isabel businesses, for example) on social media is going to either ruin everything or save women from a dependence on more traditional means of earning income. I’m happy to talk direct sales. I’ve been earning money this way for a year, as of this month. It’s fascinating. I’m in-between “gets me a discount” and “full-time money, part-time hours!” – I make enough to really make a dent, but my hourly wage is pretty sad (thanks in part to my addiction to making Polyvore collages nobody sees). My whole point, though, is that all that stuff is another topic.
We have social media over here… …and direct sales way over here. You can lose friends on social media by alienating them, and that’s usually by either being too pushy, too impersonal, or just plain insincere. Offensive will do it, too. I once began a private conversation with someone I didn’t know, because her post about Islam as the worst source of violence in history popped up in my newsfeed. Her hashtag, #JesusIsTheWay, gave me some hope that we could have a conversation about the teachings of Christ, if I sent her a private message. No conversation. Nope. She was not talking, if I disagreed (I maintain that “disagree” is the wrong word, when applied to statement that is just nowhere near factual). But I’m not just babbling; this brings me to my first point.
Fact 1: Using social media to post your beliefs repeatedly, without any desire or opening for conversation, never converts anyone. I follow YOU, not your church, or your brand, or your favorite restaurant, because I want to interact. Food, pets, 3D lashes, Jamberry, skin care, or even, literally Jesus Christ himself, become uninteresting when presented in advertising format. That is what you and I are doing, when we post about something without any personal touches. We are posting an ad.
Fact 2: You post an advertisement when you post about a person/place/thing presented as something others should believe/want/buy without any reference to your own life or experience. “Try this! I love it!” Doesn’t count. All ads say that. The actress on my TV who claims to use a cheap brand of anti-aging cream says that, too. Yes, you carry a little more weight, because we are friends… but there are also a lot of people who are “friends” and yet, I don’t know them well, if at all.
Fact 3: Social media is a tool that causes anxiety or satisfaction, depending on how we use it: comparison causes anxiety, while interaction can be satisfying. If I compare myself and my life to what I see on Instagram, I fall short. I feel badly. If I start a conversation with someone, get a little more information, admit in a private message (again: “private” – screen shots, people!) that I feel jealous or younameit and get a sincere reply, I have similar feelings to what I might have during any personal interaction.
I find that social media is satisfying, and a mostly positive use of my time, because I curate. I unfollow the person who is trying to convert us all to something perfect, but rarely posts anything personal. I forgive myself and anyone I like for posting the occasional ad, in the middle of otherwise sincere and personal posts.
My advice: Whatever it is that you want to talk about – politics, religion, mascara – do it from your point of view, and make sure that your point of view is obvious. You had also better check in with yourself: do you want to have a conversation about this? You never know who might comment on what, and it’s just not classy to pretend the comment doesn’t exist.
Things that I find useful also include: refusing to keep track of who follows me and who unfollows me, on any platform, aside from the occasional fan girl moment, deleting a comment clearly meant to incite conflict rather than conversation, and always always reminding the wonderful women who host online parties for me not to invite every female who happens to be her Facebook friend – asking them to think about who they’re inviting and why, and to limit the number makes the invitation sincere. Spam sucks. Don’t do it. There’s a presidential election coming: avoid temptation. Converse. Be a good friend by reserving your right to just complain or be excited, to opt out of conversation once in awhile, and in your turn, by forgiving those who do the same.